Trump Lawyer: President Gets Immunity. Yes, Even If He Shot Someone.

Topline: As President Trump continues to fight efforts the obtain of his tax returns, a lawyer representing him in court argued that didn’t need to release them because he will be immune from any prosecution until he leaves office—even if he shot someone on New York City’s 5th Avenue (echoing Trump’s 2016 comment that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose support).

  • The lawyer, William Consovoy, made the statement during a U.S. Court of Appeals hearing over whether the Manhattan district attorney could successfully subpoena Trump’s personal and business tax returns.
  • Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan D.A., is seeking eight years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns as part of a grand jury investigation into hush money payments.
  • “We view the entire subpoena as an inappropriate fishing expedition not made in good faith,” Consovoy told the three-judge panel Wednesday, as part of his argument to block Vance’s subpoena.
  • The prosecutors argued that presidential immunity for tax returns doesn’t exist and assured the judges that the records, if obtained, would be kept confidential, according to Reuters.
  • The Washington Post reported that the judges questioned why Trump could keep his tax returns secret when Richard Nixon’s White House was famously ordered to hand over tape-recorded conversations during the Watergate investigation. 
  • Meanwhile, the case⁠—seen as a test of the scope of presidential privilege⁠—is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

Crucial quote: Judge Denny Chin asked Consovoy, “What’s your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn’t investigate, they couldn’t do anything about it?” Consovoy said no⁠—not while a president was in office.

Key background: A U.S. district judge rejected Trump’s argument that a sitting president is immune from all investigation and prosecution in an October 7 ruling, calling the effort to prohibit investigations of the president “repugnant.” Trump’s lawyers appealed the decision, leading to Wednesday’s hearing. When Trump speculated about shooting someone in 2016 during an Iowa campaign stop, NPR reported that his base mostly enjoyed the statement, with few of his supporters criticizing it.

Tangent: Vance isn’t the only person trying to get Trump’s tax returns. There are six other ongoing efforts to unearth the records.